Should we be producing more biofuels to reduce our dependence on foreign oil?
•solid, liquid or gas fuel derived from recently dead biological material
•fossil fuels are derived from long dead biological material
Types of biofuels
Two production strategies:
•Grow crops high in sugar (sugar cane, sugar beet, and sweet sorghum) or starch (corn), then use yeast fermentation to produce ethyl alcohol (ethanol).
•Grow plants that contain high amounts of vegetable oil, such as oil palm, soybean, algae, which can be burned directly in a diesel engine or processed into biodiesel.
•Also possible to make cellulosic ethanol from non-edible plant parts, but this can be difficult to accomplish economically.
•Plants used in the production of biofuel removes CO2 from the atmosphere
–Theoretically neutral climate impact
•Burning fossil fuels returns carbon that was stored beneath the surface for millions of years back into the atmosphere
–Net increase of atmospheric carbon
Pros and Cons
•May reduce climate impact
•Can be produced domestically, thus reducing fuel imports from other countries
•Land to grow crops for biofuels is often diverted from food production, leading to higher food prices, or
•Land may be converted from native vegetation and wildlife habitat to grow crops for biofuels